New figures show the scale of hunting with hounds across the UK.

Hundreds of cases of illegal hunting and the killing of British wildlife by fox, deer, and hare hunts have been reported to a leading animal welfare charity since the beginning of November.

The League Against Cruel Sports has received 282 reports of suspected illegal hunting since the hunting season began on November 1.

60 animals were witnessed being chased and killed, including 39 foxes and 4 hares which were torn apart by packs of hounds and 17 deer which were pursued for miles until exhausted and then shot.

Hunting with hounds was banned in 2004 but is still rife in the British countryside. The rise of smart camera phones and social media use by the public and hunt monitor groups means that the scale of the hunts’ illegal activities are coming increasingly under the spotlight – much more so than happened in the immediate aftermath of the ban. Professional investigators employed by the League Against Cruel Sports back this up by using sophisticated techniques and new technology to uncover the hunts’ illegal activity.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Despite hunting being banned in 2004, hunts are still sickeningly chasing and killing British wildlife.

“These figures are sadly just the tip of the iceberg but they show that the hunts are breaking the law and killing foxes, hares and deer for their so called ‘sport’.

“The good news is that the new technology being adopted by the people monitoring hunts means it is becoming far more difficult for the hunts to get away with their illegal activity.”

The figures come from reports by the public into the League’s Animal Crimewatch service, reports by monitoring and saboteur groups posted on Facebook, and from professional investigators employed by the League to monitor hunts.

Some of the professional investigators are former police officers who bring years of front-line experience to the League.

Hunt hotspots include Cheshire where five fox kills have been witnessed this season, and the West Country, where the Devon and Somerset Staghounds have been caught on camera chasing red deer stags and hinds.

In the UK, there are 271 hunts still in existence according to the Hunting Office which represents them. This includes 179 foxhound packs, 55 beagle foot packs which target hares, 18 harrier packs which target either hares and foxes, eight fell packs which target foxes in Cumbria, six basset hound packs which target hares, three staghound packs which target red deer and two hunts which target roe deer.

Chris Luffingham said:

We are calling for the hunting ban to be strengthened with the introduction of prison sentences for those caught illegally hunting. We need a proper deterrent to stop the barbaric activities of the hunts and we also need to close down loop holes that allow hunts to use transparent excuses such as trail hunting.”

Any suspected illegal hunting activity can be reported to the League’s Animal Crimewatch service at www.league.org.uk/animal-crimewatch

Alternatively, phone in confidence on 01483 361 108 or email on [email protected]

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Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).